Friday, March 13, 2009

Latest Viva Palestina Update from Gaza


That was the verdict of the members of the Viva Palestina convoy and support team left behind to evaluate the damage and the urgent needs of Gaza.

They split into groups and some headed for the Palestinian Hydrology Group to assess the damage to the water tanks cause by the pounding of the IDF artillery. Plans were made for Viva Palestina to help in the funding of a desalination plant and freshwater wells. Money will be dispersed to funding these projects, as water is so essential to a normal life.

Some members visited the Zakart Foundation in Zeitun. Here widows spoke of their plight and their desparate needs, some of whom are now living in makeshift homes in a cemetery. Amongst the other places visited by Viva Palestina were a bakery, one of the few still operating on a shoestring budget to keep the children and the sick fed.

Other Viva Palestina activists also visited a fish farm where they witnessed the process of fish incubation, so essential as the IDF prevents Palestinian boats from fishing in their territorial waters. More orphanages have been visited today including the Islamic Association Orphanage.

One of our teams spent time with Majed Adallah Alathmna. Majed lost most of his family in a 2006 Israeli assault. Attempting to re-start his life he moved to a new area to the south of Gaza only to have his house blown to pieces by the Israeli army in January.

The members also inspected the Nasser and Yaffa hospitals where they spoke to badly wounded and burns patients and recorded some harrowing tales of slaughter, bravery and, equally, of resistance. Many medical clinics were on the agenda to be inspected.

The whole of Gaza seems to be a hospital, as not one Palestinian was spared in the onslaught. Every soul has been affected - especially the younger generation. Yet the amazing thing a member of Viva Palestina told me was that 'Everyone manages a smile - a true genuine smile in the face of death and a barbaric siege.'

On a happier note, some activists today were invited to a Palestinian engagement party and shared the celebrations of the families involved. Above were the Israeli reconnaissance drones and F16s, in the distance could be heard the dull thud of bombing and the crack of gunfire. From out at sea the IDF were shelling once again, while above them hovered a huge barrage balloon festooned with cameras. But the party went on - sending a message to the murderers above, which says simply, ' You will never kill our way of life and our spirits will never die!'

Farid Arada and Clive Searle

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